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Diagnostic imaging

Saskatoon hospital to acquire PET/CT scanner

SASKATOON – A $17 million government investment in an advanced research cyclotron will set the stage for an additional $6 million investment to bring PET-CT (Positron Emission Tomography-Computerized Tomography) scan services to Saskatchewan.

“The introduction of PET-CT treatment and research services is a very positive step forward for patients in Saskatchewan,” Health Minister Don McMorris said.

“What this means for patients is they will no longer have to travel outside of the province to receive this service. We owe it to our patients to provide the highest quality care and the latest treatments, as close to home as possible.”

PET scans provide clinical information that is not available from diagnostic tests such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exams or CT scans. PET scans are used mainly during treatment of cancer patients to determine the treatment required and monitor its effectiveness.

“The cyclotron will enable the production of the isotopes needed to provide the PET-CT program to Saskatchewan patients,” Innovation Minister Rob Norris said. “This is a critical partnership that marries the science and technology of innovation with the real-time delivery of health services.”

The province is providing $4 million of the $6 million toward the purchase, renovations and installation of the PET-CT scanner. The Saskatoon Health Region’s Royal University Hospital Foundation has committed to raise the remaining $2 million.

“Twenty years ago, we launched a campaign to bring the first MRI to Saskatchewan, giving people in Saskatchewan access to the most advanced diagnostic equipment and treatment right here at home,” Volunteer Board Chair of Royal University Hospital Foundation Arnie Arnott said.

“We are proud to be a partner in bringing the newest technology of a PET-CT medical imaging program to our province. This is a testament to the power of our shared commitment through donor support in improving the quality of life where we live and work.”

McMorris expressed gratitude to the Royal University Hospital Foundation for its financial support for the project, and to the Saskatoon Health Region for its commitment to provide the service.

When the scanner is fully operational, it will have the capacity to provide about 2,000 scans per year. Saskatchewan patients who need a PET scan are currently sent to Edmonton or Winnipeg for this service. The province covers the cost of out-of-province PET scans.

Renovations and installation will begin in the 2011-12 fiscal year, and the new PET-CT scanner is expected to be operational during 2012-13.

The $17 million investment for a cyclotron includes $10 million from the Government of Saskatchewan and $7 million from the Government of Canada.

The research cyclotron will generate short-lived, radioactive PET-CT isotopes, required to support the delivery of a new provincial PET-CT medical imaging program. The cyclotron will also support research into the direct production of Technetium-99, the most widely used medical isotopes in the world.

Posted March 10, 2011